17 Dec 2015

SEO 202 Series: Start Your International Content Strategy with Hreflang

There are many reasons why you should start thinking about expanding your content marketing efforts internationally. First, there are over three billion active internet users in the world and this number is growing exponentially, mostly from mobile devices. Second, you can increase your rankings and conversions with proper international targeting. And lastly, it’s really easy to do if you understand and implement the Hreflang tag. Watch this short video on what hreflang tags are, how they work, and how to implement them.

So what in the world is hreflang?

It’s just a fancy term used by search engines that relates to the piece of code in a webpage, XML sitemap or HTTP header that tells Google “Hey, there is an alternate version of this page residing somewhere.”

So how does hreflang work?

You now have the freedom to create ANY alternate version of your content that’s specifically targeted to your international audience. This content can be in any language, on any subdomain, or any ccTLD and there will be ZERO NEGATIVE duplicate content consequences from Google. Pretty great right?

So how do you implement Hreflang tags?

Step 1: View your Direct and Organic Traffic in Google Analytics

Add a secondary dimension of Country or Language. This puts your most visited traffic, by country (or language) and is a great starting point to start to identify which content you can market internationally.

Step 2: Localize Everything About Your International Content

Speak to users you’ll be targeting through revised currency, how shipping works, how does customer service work, and make everything about your “foreign” content speak directly to that target audience.

Step 3: Decide Where Your Content Will Reside

Is your content going to be a specific subdirectory on your primary domain, under a subdomain or on its own domain? Keep in mind that certain countries engage and convert much more on content that’s on their country’s domain.

Step 4: Implement Your Hreflang Tag

There are 3 ways to do this: either in XML sitemaps, your HTTP Header or directly in-line with your code. That’s all there is to it!

Let’s review real quick –

  1. Start expanding your international content marketing efforts with just a single page of content.
  2. Find what international location to target first within just a few minutes by checking your data.
  3. Implement that content anywhere you’d like on your existing domain within a subdirectory, subdomain or on a completely separate domain.

By doing this you can start to rank better and convert more users in international markets – starting this week!

Learn more about hreflang tag implementation.